A troubling inquest turns to medical staff for answers
Missed opportunities at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, plus the rest of our weekly briefing
Dear Millers — welcome to this week’s Mill briefing, which has the latest from a very concerning inquest into the death of Wythenshawe toddler Ella-Rose Clover; a stormy forecast from our weatherman Martin Miles; our first ever weekly quiz; and, right at the end of the newsletter, our first-ever critical restaurant review…
Before that: In last week’s briefing, we broke the news about the suspension of a leading Manchester councillor from the Labour Party. We followed that up with a members-only deep-dive into the brutal political fight that’s been going on in south Manchester.
READ: A feud in Burnage and the bad omens for Manchester's new politics: As Sir Richard Leese stands down as leader, we reveal more about the infighting that led to Monday's exclusive. If you’re not a member, click the link and you can join now and read the piece straight away.
LISTEN: We talked about the story on our weekly podcast, which dropped at the end of last week. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify or just search The Manchester Weekly from The Mill on your favoured podcast app.
🎄 10 days left
Our magical, wonderful, candlelit Christmas concert at St Ann’s Church is now just 10 days away (Thursday 16th). Dozens of Millers have already bought their tickets, and you can join them by clicking here now. It’s going to be a lovely evening and because the church won’t be full, if you prefer to have a bit more space around you, you can have that. The concert will feature a few sing-along carols, some music sung by the church’s choir, a local string quartet and some festive readings. It’s the perfect way to start your Christmas. Proceeds from the tickets are paying for the extra musicians and raising money for the church’s Covid-19 Recovery Fund and The Mill.
🎟 Book your tickets for the concert now using this link. All proceeds to St Ann’s Church’s Covid-19 Recovery Fund and The Mill.
This week’s weather
Our forecast comes from local weatherman Martin Miles who says: “A lively week of weather is on the way as the Storm Barra arrives, bringing heavy rain, gusty winds and even snow for a few. The second half of the week will thankfully offer an improvement in the weather.”
Monday 🌧 Heavy rain will sweep through from West to East during Monday morning. A drier and brighter period will follow early in the afternoon before heavy showers arrive. Showers will be wintry to the hills. Windy. Max 6°c.
Tuesday ⚠️ As Storm Barra moves close to the UK, a weather warning for wind will become active from 9am. A separate weather warning for snow is in place for a few areas, mainly towards and over the Pennines. Most places will see heavy rain and encounter wind gusts over 40mph, especially during the afternoon and early evening. Winds will turn less gusty overnight. Max 5°c.
Wednesday 🌧 Another unsettled day will follow on Wednesday. Windy conditions will accompany spells of heavy rain (wintry to hills). Wind gusts won’t be as potent as on Tuesday. Max 6°c.
Thursday 🌦 At the time of writing, a much calmer and drier day of weather will feature on Thursday. Large parts of the day will be dry, and winds will be light. Max 6°c.
Friday ☁️ A cloudy day with patchy light rain will round off the week. Max 5°c.
Weekend 🌦 Unsettled weather looks set to dominate, although temperatures will turn milder.
For the full forecast, visit Manchester Weather.
The big story: Toddler inquest flags missed opportunities
Top line: Medical staff gave evidence today at the inquest into the death of a Wythenshawe toddler. Ella-Rose Clover, who was almost two-years-old, was murdered by her babysitter, Michael Wild, in January 2018.
Context: Last Thursday the inquest began exploring her death, and whether medical staff at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH) could have recognised a serious risk to her safety. The toddler was admitted to RMCH on multiple occasions in the lead up to her murder.
Red flags: As late as two months before her death, Ella-Rose presented with injuries so serious she required surgery.
Naomi Carter, a Home Office forensic pathologist, described that moment as a “red flag”.
Staff at RMCH held a safeguarding meeting which decided that Ella-Rose’s bruising patterns were consistent with accidental injuries. Carter, in hindsight, now believes that was incorrect.
Talking point: The inquest enters its second week as the case of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, a six-year-old murdered by his stepmother in Solihull, has sparked a national debate about child protection and the steps the authorities can take to keep children safe.
In an interview with the Guardian, Martin Narey — ex-head of Barnardo’s, the children’s charity — said potentially abusive parents and guardians should be viewed “more critically” by frontline services. He also talked about how an aversion to putting children into care is leaving some children at higher risk. He told the paper:
One of the flaws is that everyone believes that taking a child into care is a negative step. Because the children in care are, for example, performing badly educationally. But that’s just a profound misunderstanding of what’s happening.
Bottom line: Manchester Foundation Trust, RMCH’s governing body, admitted that the risk posed to Ella-Rose was underestimated. And that staff at the hospital were premature in ruling the bruising patterns as consistent with accidental injury. With that said, they were unable to say whether if any of those failings contributed to Ella-Rose’s death. The inquest continues.
Home of the week
This 17th-century 3-bed house in Cadishead has a wealth of original character features, including a thatched roof and ceiling beams. It’s on the market for £400,000.
Local news in brief
A Christmas market trader has given a bleak insight into the realities of festive trading. Agnieszka Biardza spent nearly £4000 to open a stall in Cathedral gardens, but is now making just £30 a day and says she won’t get anywhere close to breaking even. She told the MEN: “I’ve always gone to the Christmas Markets as a customer and it always seems so magical, but being on the other side of it has been so sad.” Read more.
A man from Middleton has been jailed for four years after admitting seven counts of “inciting racial hatred.” 36-year-old Richard Hesketh was one of the UK’s most prolific far-right anti-Semitic video streamers. A spokesperson for the GMP said Hesketh used his spare bedroom to create “obscene videos which focused on celebrating far-right terrorism and showing support for violence against Jewish people". Read more.
So-called “Low Traffic Neighbourhood” schemes are set to continue in Stockport and Trafford as part of the government’s Active Travel campaign, although some planters in Trafford will be moved after a consultation. The government’s Active Travel Fund has allocated £780k to transform Stockport's Marketplace and Underbank, and the changes will include road closures and automatic bollards. Becky Crawford, councillor for Brinnington and Central, in Stockport, said: “It’s going to change the feel of our town centre and move it forward in a positive way.” Read more.
Residents wanted 'low traffic' streets. They got a neighbourhood war. Inside the bitter row that has divided Levenshulme.
'Low traffic neighbourhood' trials are everywhere in Greater Manchester. But will they work? The lessons from the controversy in Levenshulme (members only).
🧠 Mill quiz
The soft red sandstone used to build St Ann’s Church, the Roman fort at Castlefield and many other buildings in the city came from a quarry in which Manchester neighbourhood?
Currently, Mana in Ancoats is the only Michelin star restaurant in Manchester, a status it won in 2019. But, when did the city win its first Michelin star?
In 2018, the average selling price of a home in Greater Manchester was £197,534. What was the average this year, according to Rightmove?
Our favourite reads
The New Luxury Vacation: Being Dumped in The Middle of Nowhere — The New Yorker
“One recent afternoon in Morocco, a fifty-nine-year-old former Royal Marine Commando named Phil Asher walked me into a desolate valley in the Atlas Mountains, shook my hand, and abandoned me.” Longtime Miller and Manchester-based journalist Ed Caesar went to the Atlas Mountains to check out a travel company that caters to affluent vacationers. It seems some of them prefer adventure (read: expeditions that encourage people to “disconnect”) rather than sunning by infinity pools.
Unbarring the Way — Fare City
This article takes a look at how social and physical barriers are preventing people from being able to travel around Manchester by foot, bike or on wheels. “Harrie’s experience is not unique, it is shared by many disabled cyclists who see barriers as physical manifestations of wider societal barriers to active travel, including discrimination, exclusionary practices, and a lack of understanding from decision-makers. Some public bodies are better than others, but even in the most progressive of them, issues can often remain.”
Cloud racers — Atavist Magazine
Manchester gets a passing mention in this piece, which tells the thrilling story of how two rival US pilots went head to head in the golden age of aviation. It’s a colourful story about a time pilots were treated like celebrities. Here’s what happened when one-eyed pilot Wiley Post landed his plane the Winnie Mae on Long Island in 1931: “Unable to quell the riot, Nassau County police resorted to their billy clubs. The vice president of an airfield-services company was dragged from his car and beaten. A photographer was clubbed unconscious.”
Photo of the week
Bobbies decorating a Christmas tree for local children from deprived backgrounds at their station at Mill Street, 1936. Photo: Fox Photos/Getty Images.
Our to do list
🎶 Concert | Our friends Manchester Baroque are performing Handel’s Messiah on Saturday at Manchester Cathedral, along with the cathedral’s choir. It’s going to be a very beautiful rendition of a festive favourite, played in the way Handel intended his famous oratorio to sound. Tickets start at just £11.50 and you and you can book yours here.
💡 Festival: This week is your last chance to catch Lightwaves festival at Salford Quays. It’s a collection of illuminated installations from international and local artists. They’ll be glowing, interactive musical instruments and an ensemble of electric swans. It’s free and there’s no booking required. More info here.
🎨 Art | Bee Creative Studio is hosting a life drawing class on Wednesday at Impossible Club. It’ll start with some quick drawings before moving onto longer poses. All abilities welcome. Tickets here.
🎷 Food, Art, Jazz | There's a rather multi-faceted event this Wednesday at Blossom Street social in Ancoats. They'll be a seven-course tasting menu cooked by Michelin-trained chef Caroline Martins, art exhibited by 'Manc of the Year' nominee Rachel Addis, and music from sax and flute band EDDA. It’s £40 a ticket. Tickets here.
🥂 Drink | It’s Didsbury Gin Festival this Friday, expect a range of gins from around the world and the opportunity to meet local makers. Tickets here.
💃 Dance | Dance Out is a free dance class for LGBT and non-binary people. The bi-monthly class practices a range of different dance styles across its hour-long sessions. It’s a great space to have fun and meet new people. Tickets here.
🎟 Book your tickets for our Christmas concert at St Ann’s on Thursday, December 16th using this link. All proceeds to the church’s Covid-19 Recovery Fund and The Mill.
Book of the week: The Falling Thread by Adam O’Riordan
This elegant novel by Manchester-born poet Adam O’Riordan traces the fortunes of a Victorian Manchester family from the late 19th century to the start of the first world war. Here’s what the Financial Times had to say:
O’Riordan’s prose is exquisite, while subtly drawing attention to the barriers of class, gender and sexuality. His chiming of nature with period detail is exact: “New leaves, the colour of absinthe, cast a faint green light through the room.”
The Falling Thread is available to buy here.
🍖 Mini Review: The Fountain House
Jack Dulhanty reviews a new gastropub at 14 Albert Square, Manchester M2 5PE.
As old-school pubs fade from the city centre, their posh replacements become more egregious. Take The Fountain House, which crawled into the barely cooled husk of what was Albert’s Chop House last month (“The new 'charming and chic' gastropub opening in iconic Albert Square building,” the MEN said). It keeps to the formula: glowy open kitchen, leatherbound dining room, the walls and plumbing a bit more exposed. Not so much that it stops looking like a pub, but just enough that you can start charging £18 for hotpot. During my visit, bread and butter became a reprieve, which is never a good sign. A lamb belly fritter’s unrendered fat, still silver and jiggly, repelled my knife. A short rib and flank burger was sawdust-dry, served with burnt onions — literally termed ‘burnt onions’ on the menu. Unsurprisingly, they taste bad.
Where shall we review next? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.